Ana Paradis

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Inaugural 2024 U.S. Biathlon Collegiate Nationals Sets the Tone for Future Events

by Sara Donatello

The inaugural U.S. Biathlon Collegiate National Championships took place March 22, 2024 at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center in Fort Kent, Maine, in conjunction with the 2024 U.S. Biathlon National Championships. Twelve collegiate athletes representing six colleges and universities from around the Northeast traveled to Fort Kent to race and represent their respective schools. 


Friday’s U.S. Nationals sprint race doubled as the Collegiate Nationals sprint race, where athlete standings were counted towards both events. Crystal trophies were awarded to the top three athletes for both women and men, and the top three collegiate teams, determined by combining the best two athletes’ scores from each team.


“What a great weekend in Fort Kent,” said U.S. Biathlon Director of Sport Development John Farra. “I am very pleased that the Collegiate Championships were a success! The intent was to provide recognition to those athletes who are in a course of study at a collegiate institution and who define themselves as biathletes, as well as provide recognition to the schools that are supporting their sporting efforts. These collegiate institutions are helping us in our sport development efforts, and we got to celebrate that in Fort Kent.”


Grace Castonguay, currently a senior at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, claimed the historic Collegiate National Championships title for the women. Castonguay raced to a time of 29:43, missing just one target in prone and three in standing. Hannah Chipman of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, took home second place, covering the course in 31:36 with just three misses on the day. Dolcie Tanguay, racing for Paul Smith’s College out of Paul Smith’s, New York, finished in third with a time of 32:32, mirroring Chipman on the range with three misses.

(Photo by Ana Paradis)

“It was really fun and special to be recognized as a college athlete, as well as a biathlete, this past weekend,” said Castonguay. “Collegiate ski racing has influenced a lot of my development and progress as a biathlete and has been a major part of my identity for the past three years, so it was nice to recognize its role in my biathlon journey.”  


On the men’s side, Bjorn Westervelt, a senior at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont, won the historic Collegiate National Championships title for the men with a time of 30:50, despite six misses on the range. Paul Smith’s College saw three athletes on the individual podiums with teammates Aiden Ripp and Diego Schillaci claiming second and third in the men’s category. Ripp raced the 10km course in 34:08 with Schillaci on his heels with a time of 35:43.

(Photo by Ana Paradis)

Paul Smith’s College continued their podium success in the team category as the team of Tanguay, Ripp, Scillaci, Brady Miller and Kaisa Bosek took home the title with the top collective team score. Saint Michael’s College athletes Castonguay and Evelyn Hudrlik stood on the podium in second place with the local team of Bridget Reusch and Caleb Hunter of University of Maine at Fort Kent raising their flag in third. The University of Vermont placed fourth, Dartmouth College in fifth and St. Lawrence University finished in sixth place.

"I think it's awesome that U.S. Biathlon is highlighting all the student athletes out there that balance being university students and competing in high level athletics at the same," Westervelt said. "As a University of Vermont student, a division 1 athlete and a U.S. Biathlon National Team member, it has been a busy winter. This new event is an important step in supporting biathletes during their academic careers."

(Photo by Ana Paradis)

"It was so exciting to not only be a part of the first ever U.S. Biathlon College National Championships but to also take home the National Championship title,” said Paul Smith’s College Head Biathlon Coach Matt Dougherty. “I was so happy not only for the Paul Smith's athletes but all the collegiate athletes who had this opportunity to compete and be recognized for their hard work, dedication and effort through their college careers."  

“Getting to share the podium for the overall team score with Evelyn, my college teammate, was really special,” added Castonguay, “ and I know it made the rest of our team at Saint Michael’s College very proud.” 

This inaugural Collegiate Biathlon National Championships marked the beginning of what will be an exciting annual event for all current and future collegiate biathletes to represent their respective colleges and universities. For the past four years, U.S. Biathlon has worked closely with Paul Smith’s College as the Official Education Partner of U.S. Biathlon, committed to growing the visibility and opportunity for collegiate biathletes. Not only were they an integral part in the success of the Collegiate National Championships event, but they further proved the success of their own biathlon program in Fort Kent. 

“In late 2020, Paul Smith's College announced a unique partnership with U.S. Biathlon and four years later we had a Collegiate National Championship. It’s a great reward for the entire community of biathlon, added Dougherty. “This is also a testament to Paul Smith's College and everyone who supported the development of the biathlon program at Paul Smith’s. We knew there was a need for a place dedicated to helping biathletes develop and obtain a world class degree at the same time. All the campus’ support made this possible and it's a testament to what Paul Smith's College stands for world class results from a small school in the woods. We are excited to help grow the college ranks for biathlon and hopefully serve as inspiration for other colleges to follow suit."
“This has become an important initiative as we aim to give credibility to those institutions who recruit biathletes as Nordic ski racers and support their desire to juggle both sports, while also giving credibility to those biathletes who may not be competing for a Collegiate institution in skiing, but are committed to working towards a degree while training and competing in both cross-country skiing and biathlon,” added Farra. “There are many ways to achieve one's sporting and high education goals and we had a great representation of that in Fort Kent.”

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